Conservative Claim Is Not The Reality
In a recent interview, Council President Jim Hall touts his conservatism, and states he has no regrets as he reflects on 2011. A conservative is one who is cautious with taxpayers’ money, believes in limited government intervention and most importantly is fiscally responsible.
President Hall and his majority were not conservative in 2011. They first eliminated most of the town’s commissions, allowing them to micro-manage many aspects of municipal government. Then the fiscal irresponsibility began:
Six positions that were previously approved for new police officers were retracted costing the taxpayer between $65,000 and $70,000.
The Defined Benefit Pension Plan was closed costing the taxpayer an estimated $325,000 in the first fiscal year not including the costs for all the additional actuarial studies required. The benefits wrought by this plan for our current taxpayer will not occur until 20 years from now, 2032, when the savings begin to be realized.
The forced resignation of City Manager Dare will cost approximately $250,000 by the time this debacle is concluded.
That is about $640,000 out of the taxpayers’ pockets in this regrettable year. If the mayor had not vetoed the original ordnances pertaining to healthcare and retirement changes, Jim Hall’s majority would have cost the taxpayer another $1.5 to $2 million.
These are real numbers that would add substantially to the tax rate this majority says they are committed to preserve. Continuing, President Hall takes credit for being down 120 employees, an accomplishment by City Manager Dennis Dare and the council prior to Jim Hall’s presidency.
As a true fiscal conservative and member of the minority with Council Secretary Martin and Councilmember Cymek, who voted against these poorly planned costly motions, I pledge to continue the fight during this very important upcoming budget, and to maintain the current tax rate while preserving all the services our citizens expect and deserve.
(The writer is an Ocean City Council member.)
New Program Expands State’s Local Control
Once again, the O’Malley administration and its apologists have sown division in our state with another program, they claim, we cannot live without: Plan Maryland. Those who naively claim the plan does not remove local authority need to follow the money. If a local governing body gets out of step with the governor’s cadence, state money will serve as the whip of conformity.
There is nothing wrong with planning. In fact, communities are required to maintain Comprehensive Plans for growth and development in Maryland and the state has always provided guidance and support. They are reviewed periodically and updated by the folks who know and recognize the dreams, hopes, and desires of their affected community.
I get concerned when the state wants “more teeth” in planning laws and guidelines. That is code for “inflexibility” or the desire to make land use decisions that are etched in stone rather than drawn on paper. In America and a free Maryland, we used to value the private property rights of each other. In fact, we use to understand their importance to our foundational moorings. The idea that more governmental control and bureaucracy enhances or increases my freedom would prove anathema to the ears of Presidents Washington, Adams, or Jefferson.
Who has the right to declare that your city or town can only grow to a certain line? What if a crossroads decides to be something more? What if a farmer decides he wants to diversify and divide up his property? Where did our cities and towns come from in the first place? Why should these decisions fall to bureaucrats in Annapolis and Baltimore? Ironically, it was royalty who first directed their growth.
These matters would be tragic enough if they came through an elected General Assembly, but the governor is enacting them by Executive Order…he simply wills them to be so. These are not the actions of a representative government. Considering the overwhelming bi-partisan rejection of the O’Malley septic plan last session, its clear the governor has decided to bypass the people and go straight to dictating.
By way of example, only 7.24% of Worcester County is developed and 69% of our total land and water resources are already controlled by the government. Plan Maryland says, “that is not enough”. The plan calls for “saving” 300,000 acres of farmland over the next 25 years. The only way the land can be “saved” is by a taking. Farmers will lose their property rights and future development will not occur … all in the name of “freedom” and a “greater good”.
New technology is rendering obsolete the notion that owner operated septic systems cannot be environmentally neutral and state of the art farming techniques continue to enhance output while protecting the environment. The fact is, technology is outpacing our best planning efforts and rendering the science, conjectures, and cost-benefit analysis null and void.
Through Plan Maryland, proponents call upon the government to “use any means necessary” to demand that growth only occur in existing cities and towns, and bureaucracy, once created, results in freedom lost one code at a time.
We would do well to remember that a benevolent tyrant is a tyrant none the less.
Marylanders, take back your state.
(The writer serves in the House of Delegates representing District 38-B.)